IWU alum Erin Burnison is the glue holding together CLA

By Farah Bassyouni Feb 24, 2023

While you may be familiar with the various humanities department chairs and professors, there is a lesser-known presence that is just as vital to the daily behind-the-scenes functions within these academic offices. 

Erin Burnison is essentially the glue that holds the English, Philosophy, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) departments together, fulfilling the official role of Administrative Specialist II: Multi-Programs. 

Burnison attentively sits in the Center for Liberal Arts, crafting enticing emails to the student body advertising anything from campus events to job openings, providing assistance with a smile to any who approach her. 

The Argus was fortunate enough to sit down with Burnison to gain insight on what her position entails and to showcase her dedication to Illinois Wesleyan and the humanities departments. 

  1. Where did you go to college, & what was your major?
    I graduated from IWU (class of 2021) with a major in English – Writing.
  1. Why did you choose to work here?
    I actually had worked as a student assistant to my current position during my junior and senior years at IWU and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. Being back now as an official staff member, it feels like a bit of a blessing to be able to work so closely with my favorite departments, all while giving back to those who had given so much to me back when I was earning my degree.

  1. Outside of work, what are you passionate about?
    Outside of work, I am most passionate about writing fiction–especially noir. I find that the more “barebones” style of the noir genre actually allows more breathing room to experiment with richer and more absurdist themes. I also really enjoy playing guitar and writing music–pre-Covid, I would perform quite a bit around town. One of my more unexpected passions is my recently formed mild addiction to World of Warcraft.

  2. What is your favorite thing about IWU?
    My favorite thing about Illinois Wesleyan will always be the IWU community. Over all the years I’ve been a member of this campus, I haven’t met a single person who isn’t at least mostly awesome. I also have a great admiration for IWU’s resident geese. They have so much audacity that I can’t help but respect them and their confusing/mildly frightening role on this campus.

  3. Do you have any fun stories or memories about IWU?
    My favorite IWU memory is from the fall of 2019, when a huge chunk of my Japanese class (and our professor) got together and carpooled around central Illinois to go through as many haunted houses as we possibly could in one evening. It wasn’t even part of a lesson, the Japanese classes had just randomly voted to go on a Halloween adventure, and our professor at the time was like: “Sounds good to me!” I honestly can’t think of any other campus–at least not around here–where a spontaneous haunted house binge could even be possible.

  4. What advice do you have for IWU students, on ANY topic?
    Your biggest passions and interests don’t need to be monetized to be valid. Sometimes I think we get caught up in the idea that we can’t pursue creative interests or passion projects unless we plan to make a career out of them, and that can put a ton of pressure on a person. Just remember that it’s absolutely valid to dedicate time and effort toward something you greatly enjoy for no reason other than the fact that you greatly enjoy it. 

Burnison has established a legacy here at IWU, as faculty, staff and students alike share an appreciation for her dedication to ensure the success of each department. Her hard work in advocating for the  preservation of the humanities does not go unnoticed and is appreciated campuswide.

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